Tuesday, May 30, 2017

TBR list: Where I try to get caught up from 2012... Review of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Dear All:
I can't believe how time flies. It's been way too long since my last blog post. Work and writing and terrible twos and all sorts of craziness called life has happened, and I'm just grateful to still be around plugging along. I actually haven't stopped reading at all. In fact, my reading has skyrocketed in the past couple of months, but I just haven't reviewed anything in a while. The coolest part is that I've actually been reading all the books on my TBR book shelf and have actually made a small dent in it. Books have been sitting there since I was pregnant with Olivia I've finally gotten to-- only took over three years! Older ARCs and books are never as flashy as the ones that are about to come out, but they can be just as good or better, so this is just a plug-in to all of those bloggers and readers out there that have a TBR list that is longer than a mile, it's really fun to go back and actually read those books!

Gone GirlLately, I've taken a break from YA (although I will post eventually on a YA science fiction readathon I had with myself not too long ago), and have delved into an old favorite genre from the adult literature: psychological thrillers, or actually any thrillers or mysteries. So I finally cracked into an old Robin Cook book (not one of his better books), read my first Patricia Cornwall book (pretty good and love that Kay Scarpetta is a pathologist!), and then read a string of thrillers, one which finally was Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

If you live in this world of pop culture AT ALL, you have either seen the movie or read the book by now. It seems ridiculously impossible for someone who blogs about books to not have been spoiled at this point. And yet, here I am. Somehow, I have avoided reading spoilers or running into them on the internet or just overhearing people chatting in the workroom.

But that is the perfect way to experience this book. To completely have no idea what you are getting into. I had very low expectations for this book (which may be part of why I was so delighted by it) and figured it would at least be entertaining to pass the time. I think I'm a snob when it comes to NYT bestsellers because I've been let down so many times in the past by what the mass public buys into as good--- and most of the time it's not their fault, it's just what book has been promoted the most and has the catchiest headline. But in this case, Gone Girl really deserves its hype.

Rating: 5 couches

Review: I don't actually want to give any synopsis here at all. Suffice it to say, it stars a man (Nick) and a woman (Amy) in a marriage and all that's wrong between them. That's all I knew going in, and that's all I would want to know. In fact, if at this point you still remain unblemished and plan to read this book, you should stop reading now. I won't have glaring spoilers, but I don't want to spoil the journey for you.

My experience reading this book was a fascinating one. A lot of reviewers said that the first half of the book was slow. Maybe it was, but I didn't care. Nick and Amy were the most interesting douche bag characters I had seen in a long time. The first half is seeing the current day through Nick's eyes, alternating with excerpts from Amy's diary from when they first met up to present day. There is a lot of character development, a lot of learning about them and their relationship with each other as well as their relationships with other people. It was definitely a thorough psychological profile and one that reeled me in because I always want to know what motivates characters and their deeper thoughts. The use of first person really worked here.

Then halfway through, the game completely changes. While the twist halfway through probably could have been predicted by me, I was so sucked into their viewpoints, that I did find myself surprised. The back half of the book moves at a hurtling pace, and I think this is where most people said in their reviews that they were riveted. But I have to say the entire thing was terrific. Sure it was pop and it was a fun read, but it was really well thought out and intricately structured, well written, and paced deliberately (although I know others will disagree with that).

The last point in contention for a lot of people was the ending. I actually thought it was a perfect ending and the only way it could have ended. I completely agree with Flynn's take, and her reasons for doing so, and I think it rings true with her characters. I know a lot of people were dissatisfied with the ending, but to end it in the way the masses wanted it to end, would be merely for that. I am glad Flynn stuck to her guns and went with what felt right and also that her editors didn't see the need to change it to make it more popular. That said, I think Flynn said in an interview that she was surprised by the furor about the ending. I have to say I wasn't that surprised by it. Honestly, the fact that so many people devoured the book and had such adamant feelings about it just goes to show that she really affected a lot of people whether they loved it or hated it, and isn't that what books are supposed to do, ultimately? Make you think and feel?

I will have to say that the first feeling I had upon finishing the book was extreme jealousy. And admiration. As someone who has dabbled in writing here and there, I've always wanted to explore writing characters that were completely unreliable. It's hard to do and pull off convincingly. But Flynn pulls it off in spades. It's not that the twists are so unbelievable or unpredictable, but it's the fact that the characters are SO believable, which made me doubt even my suspicions about them.

Overall, Gone Girl has earned its praise and buzzworthiness. I wholeheartedly jump on the bandwagon, 5 years late. I still haven't decided whether or not to see the movie because I'm sure a lot of the charm comes from not knowing what you're going to find. But ultimately, if you are late to the party, I definitely recommend this book. It's not a lighthearted comedy (after reading Dark Places, her earlier work, I'm not sure Flynn can write that kind of book), so don't expect that. But if you like psychological thrillers and love character development as I do, this is the book for you.

If you are still reading along with me, thanks, guys. Coming back is always fun!
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